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AB-697 Tolls: exemption for privately owned emergency ambulances.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 02/15/2017 02:00 PM
AB697:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 697


Introduced by Assembly Member Fong

February 15, 2017


An act to add Section 23301.6 to the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 697, as introduced, Fong. Tolls: exemption for privately owned emergency ambulances.
Existing law provides for the exemption of authorized emergency vehicles, as defined, from the payment of a toll or charge on a vehicular crossing, toll highway, or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane and any related fines, when the authorized emergency vehicle is being driven while responding to or returning from an urgent or emergency call, engaged in an urgent or emergency response, or engaging in a fire station coverage assignment directly related to an emergency response. Existing law requires a toll operator to accept, in lieu of payment of a bill for an authorized emergency vehicle using a toll facility, a letter from a fire chief, police chief, county sheriff, head of a public agency, or his or her designee certifying that the use of the authorized emergency vehicle was exempt from the payment of the toll or other charge. Existing law further requires, upon written request and information and belief of the toll operator that the use of an authorized emergency vehicle was not in compliance with this section, a fire chief, police chief, county sheriff, head of the public agency, or his or her designee, to provide or otherwise make accessible to the toll operator the dispatch records or log books relevant to the time period when the authorized emergency vehicle was in use on the toll highway, vehicular crossing, or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane. Existing law prohibits a person from operating a privately owned emergency ambulance unless licensed by the California Highway Patrol.
This bill would expand the exemption from the payment of a toll or charge on a vehicular crossing, toll highway, or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane and any related fines under these conditions to include a privately owned emergency ambulance licensed by the California Highway Patrol.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 23301.6 is added to the Vehicle Code, to read:

23301.6.
 (a) A private ambulance is exempt from any requirement to pay a toll or other charge on a vehicular crossing, toll highway, or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane, including the requirements of Section 23301, if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(1) The private ambulance is properly displaying a valid California license plate, and is properly identified or marked as a private ambulance, including, but not limited to, displaying an external surface-mounted red warning light, blue warning light, or both, and displaying identification as a private ambulance.
(2) (A) The private ambulance is being driven while responding to or returning from an urgent or emergency call, engaged in an urgent or emergency response, or engaging in a fire station coverage assignment directly related to an emergency response.
(B) For purposes of this paragraph, an “urgent” response or call means an incident or circumstance that requires an immediate response to a public safety-related incident, but does not warrant the use of emergency warning lights. “Urgent” does not include any personal use, commuting, training, or administrative uses.
(C) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), a private ambulance, when returning from an urgent or emergency call, or from being engaged in an urgent or emergency response, or from engaging in a fire station coverage assignment directly related to an emergency response, shall not be exempt from any requirement to pay a toll or other charge imposed while traveling on a high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane.
(3) The driver of the private ambulance determines that the use of the toll facility shall likely improve the availability or response and arrival time of the authorized emergency vehicle and its delivery of essential public safety services.
(b) If the operator of a toll facility elects to send a bill or invoice to the private ambulance operator for the use of the toll facility by a private ambulance exempt pursuant to subdivision (a), the private ambulance operator is authorized to certify in writing that the private ambulance was responding to or returning from an urgent or emergency call or response and is exempt from the payment of the toll or other charge in accordance with this section. The letter shall be accepted by the toll operator in lieu of payment and is a public document.
(c) A private ambulance that does not comply with this section is not exempt from the requirement to pay a toll or other charge on a toll highway, vehicular crossing, or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane. Upon information and belief of the toll operator that a private ambulance is not in compliance with this section, the private ambulance operator, upon the written request of the owner or operator of the toll facility, shall provide or otherwise make accessible to the toll operator the dispatch records or log books relevant to the time period when the private ambulance was in use on the toll highway, vehicular crossing, or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane.
(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit or amend an agreement entered into between the owner or operator of a toll facility and a local emergency service provider that establishes mutually agreed upon terms for the use of the toll facility by the emergency service provider. This section shall not prohibit the owner or operator of a toll facility from having a policy that meets or exceeds this section. If at any time an emergency service provider or the owner or operator of a toll facility opts to terminate an agreement regarding the payment and processing of tolls or other charges, this section shall apply to the emergency service provider and the toll facility. An agreement between an emergency service provider and the owner or operator of a toll facility does not exempt other emergency service providers not named in the original agreement and the toll facility from the requirements of this section when those other emergency service providers use a toll facility in the jurisdiction of the owner or operator of the toll facility.
(e) Sections 23302 and 23302.5 do not apply to a private ambulance exempt pursuant to this section.
(f) As used in this section, “toll facility” includes a toll road, high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane, toll bridge, toll highway, a vehicular crossing for which payment of a toll or charge is required, or any other toll facility.
(g) For purposes of this section, “private ambulance” shall mean a privately owned emergency ambulance licensed pursuant to Section 2510.